8 Common Mistakes People Make When Using a Coffee Machine

Everyone loves a fresh cup of coffee, but because brand-name brews can be very expensive, crafting cups at home is a much more pocket-friendly choice. Realizing this simple coffee-cost cutting hack, individuals have opted to buy their own makers, evidenced by the rise in coffee machine sales since 2006.

If you’ve recently purchased a coffee machine, you’re probably thinking you can concoct those dreamy, creamy coffee brews your favorite big chain brand offers. But what many don’t realize is that just because you have a coffee machine, doesn’t mean creating the perfect brews is going to be guaranteed.

Truth be told, people make more mistakes when using a coffee machine than they choose to believe. Wondering what are the most common coffee maker mistakes people make? Read on to find out.

1. Dirty Machine and Accessories

The first step to guaranteeing the best brew is to make sure your machine and accessories are properly cleaned. This will keep any contaminants from sapping the strength of your coffee.

Aside from the cleaning instructions included with your machine, you may want to go through a brew cycle with just water to rinse out the inside of the coffee maker. All you need to do is fill the machine with water and turn it on as if to brew.

Let the water through and discard whatever you get. Then you can proceed with your regular brewing.

2. Warm Water 

The temperature of the water you use will determine how much flavor will be extracted from the grounds in the machine. When you use warm water, you risk over-extracting the coffee, creating a bitter sludge that you might not even be able to down.

By bringing water down to a cooler temperature, you help ensure that it will be just the right warmth once it makes contact with your grounds. This way, you can be certain that the water won’t be too hot when it reaches the chamber.

3. Improper Coffee to Water Ratios

They say that the ideal ratio between coffee and water should be one to two tablespoons of coffee to 6 ounces of water. However, this number isn’t set in stone.

Depending on your own preference, you can adjust the amount of water to suit your taste. Add more water and you’ve got a blander brew, bring down the water level, and you create a stronger concoction.

To find out what works best for you, you can use this initial standard as your starting measure and adjust as you try to discover your own preference.

4. Old Grounds 

The fresher your grounds, the more powerful and distinct the flavor of your coffee will be. While it might be a lot easier to just buy pre-ground coffee beans, experts will tell you that buying this lazy option will compromise your coffee experience.

To find the best brew for your taste and standards, find a coffee bean that really appeals to your preference. Buy it in bulk and then ground beans manually instead of buying pre-ground coffee to guarantee premium taste.

5. Uneven Coffee Ground Consistency 

Flavor extraction can only be maximized if the consistency of your grounds is even. If they’re grinded coarsely and inconsistently, water will struggle to filter through and flavor will be compromised.

What’s more, certain coffee machines require certain ground consistency. Be certain to read your maker’s instruction manual before starting a brew. Follow the ground consistency to get the best extraction out of each brewing process.

6. Contaminated Water 

The coffee beans you use aren’t the only factor that will affect the taste of your brew. Even the water you add into the mix can make or break the flavor. That’s because improperly filtered water can contain contaminants and minerals that will negatively impact the taste of your beans.

Avoid using tap water that might contain taste-changing contaminants. Anything that isn’t properly filtered will risk adding minerals to your brew, and that can make for an unsatisfactory concoction.

As a general rule, you should always opt for distilled water instead to guarantee the best possible flavor.

7. Improper Brewing Time 

Most machines offer brewing presets that will automatically craft your brew based on fixed time standards. While it can be convenient to just press a preset, this can take away from your brew’s quality.

In a typical drip system coffee machine, the water and grounds should be in contact for up to 5 minutes. For a French press, contact should be at around 2 to 4 minutes. For an espresso machine, a time frame as short as 20 to 30 seconds should be more than enough.

It’s important to make sure you observe these times because you might risk over or under extracting flavor with improper brewing time.

Let the water and coffee keep contact for too long, and you risk creating an overly bitter brew. Leave them to make contact for too short, and you might end up with not enough flavor in your cup.

8. Old Coffee Machine

Just like any other appliance in your kitchen, your coffee machine will give in to wear, tear, and time somewhere along the way. If your coffee machine has been grinding for you day and night for the past several years, it might not be working as well as it used to.

Be sure to have your machine checked regularly and to purchase any necessary replacement parts to guarantee proper operations. If your machine is really too old to use, consider buying a new one instead to get the best out of each bag of beans you buy.

So, are you using your coffee machine wisely? No doubt, there are a lot of things that could go wrong during the process of a brew, but there are things you can do to correct your mistakes.

Make sure to keep these 8 coffee maker mishaps in mind the next time you power up your coffee maker and get the best out of each brew and bean that you use.

Gregory Tumlin

Gregory Tumlin editor of agreatcoffee.com has worked in the coffee industry for 5 years now. He used to work at Coffee and Espresso Bar in Princeton, NJ and have done some side coffee consulting and training through Barista School. He is also a husband and father of a young boy as well as a masters student. In whatever spare time he has left, Gregory enjoys running, cycling and reads just the right amount of trashy romance novels.

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